How To Actually Care For Your Denim So It Lasts You A Lifetime
Keep your good jeans forever.
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Blue, black, grey; stretch, skinny, or loose: jeans are a wardrobe staple. They’re effortless, stylish, comfortable, and – when you invest in a good pair – they’re durable enough to stand the test of time.
But if you want your favourite Trucker jacket or pair of jeans to last, you might want to rethink your current denim-care routine. Levi’s know this better than anyone – their iconic denim is made to last generations, not seasons. So we asked them how we should be caring for our denim to keep it looking good for years to come.
Avoid washing your jeans
OK, so you can’t go on forever without washing your jeans – that’s just gross. But extending the amount of time between washes will help keep your favourite pairs in tip-top shape. Cut down on the number of spin cycles you’re sending them through and you’ll protect the cotton fibres and fit of your jeans. It’ll also give the environment a well-deserved break.
The experts at Levi’s recommend washing your jeans no more than every ten wears, and spot cleaning them in between if they’re visibly grubby. To spot clean, use a damp cloth or an old, soft toothbrush with a concoction of mild, natural detergent and a dash of vinegar. The vinegar will help to neutralise any odours, while the no-nasties detergent will gently lift grime without bringing the dye with it. For particularly stubborn, oily stains, try a tiny bit of eucalyptus oil.
Try airing or freezing
If the idea of going ten or more wears before washing your jeans makes you shudder, freshen them up by popping them in the freezer. It sounds a bit weird but freezing your beloved denim is said to kill off some of the odour-producing germs to keep your jeans feeling fresher for longer.
Not keen on having your jeans in there with your peas and corn? Sceptics of this method can achieve the same results by slinging their jeans over the washing line and letting them air out in the breeze.
Hand wash or gentle wash only
When it comes time to give your jeans a thorough clean, go at it gently. They may be durable, but they still deserve your TLC.
Choose the hand-wash setting or similar on your washing machine, use a natural soap or detergent (liquid is best), and wash with cold water only to prevent shrinkage, material warping, and dye run. Bonus: running a gentle and cool cycle saves on energy too.
If you’re not opposed to the odd handwash in the name of denim longevity, stick your jeans in a bucket of cold water with a touch of detergent, give it all a bit of a mix around, then leave it all to soak for 15-30 minutes. When the timer is up, rinse at least three times before rolling the excess water out (not aggressively wringing) and hanging to dry.
Turn them inside out
We all want that ‘worn in’ feel from our favourite pair of jeans, but aggressive wash cycles aren’t the way to achieve that. There’s a big difference between ‘worn in’ and ‘worn out’. Gentle fade and that extra bit of give in the denim is achieved simply by wearing your jeans in. Steer well clear of any excessive fade by turning your jeans inside out when you wash and hang them to dry out of direct sunlight.
The experts at Levi’s strongly advise against putting your jeans in the dryer. Dryers can damage the fabric fibres causing shrinking, warping, and premature aging of the fabric; and they undo all that hard work you’ve put into fitting your jeans perfectly to your shape. Let’s not even start on how taxing a dryer cycle is on the environment.
Once you’ve washed your denim, shake it out to get rid of any creases, then hang it inside out to air dry. Your jeans might feel a bit stiff once they’ve air-dried, but they’ll soften out again with the first wear.
Find a trusty seamstress
Can’t bear the thought of parting ways with your comfiest pair of jeans? Don’t.
Instead of ditching them when they start getting a little shabby, extend their life span by letting your local seamstress (or your mum) attend to any holes, rips, or fraying hems that may have popped up. Or just chalk up those worn-out knees as a bit of customisation.
If you’re in Melbourne, the Levi’s store in Melbourne Central has its very own Tailor Shop that will repair, recycle, or redesign your Levi’s threads so they literally last a lifetime.
High quality denim like Levi’s thrives with the odd repair job. It’s worth it for your wallet, wardrobe, and the environment. So buy better and wear longer.
Lead image: Levi’s® presents climate activist Xiye Bastida. Courtesy of Levi’s